“The present book is intended, as far as possible, to give an exact insight into the theory of Relativity to those readers who, from a general scientific and philosophical point of view, are interested in the theory, but who are not conversant with the mathematical apparatus of theoretical physics…
“The author has spared himself no pains in his endeavour to present the main ideas in the simplest and most intelligible form, and on the whole, in the sequence and connection in which they actually originated. In the interest of clearness, it appeared to me inevitable that I should repeat myself frequently, without paying the slightest attention to the elegance of presentation…
“May the book bring some one a few hours of suggestive thought!” -Albert Einstein, from the Preface
FIRST EDITION IN ENGLISH IN EXTREMELY RARE DUST JACKET OF EINSTEIN’S POPULAR ACCOUNT OF SPECIAL AND GENERAL RELATIVITY.
Almost certainly Einstein’s most widely read work, Relativity “presents a popular account of relativity theory, both special and general. Finding it difficult to write at this level, Einstein felt he had no choice but to do so if his theories were to be understood… The book was a huge success… Translations into other languages followed, making relativity theory known throughout the world.” (Calaprice, The Einstein Almanac).
The lack of understanding of Einstein’s theories had become a bit of a joke by 1920 – the public understood that Einstein’s theories were important, but not exactly why. The situation is perfectly encapsulated in the oft-repeated (but apocryphal) story of Arthur Eddington who, when asked how it felt to be one of only three people in the word who understood relativity, paused for an uncomfortable length of time, leading the questioner to ask, “what is wrong Mr. Eddington?” Eddington’s response: “I’m sorry, I was just wondering who the third person is.” This book is Einstein’s (very successful) attempt to expand the understanding of relativity beyond himself, Mr. Eddington, and the unidentified third person.
Although translated by Robert W. Lawson from the third German edition, this first edition in English contains important new information, including, most significantly, “Appendix III: The Experimental Confirmation of the General Theory of Relativity”, giving an account of the famous Eddington expedition to observe the solar eclipse of 29th May, 1919.
This is the first edition in English, the U.S. issue, published in New York. There was a U.K. issue as well (published in London), no priority established.
New York: Henry Holt and Co, 1920. Octavo, original cloth, original dust jacket; custom box. Cloth boards very slightly bowed, dust jacket with closed tear on rear panel (reinforced at verso), and light toning to spine.
THE FINEST COPY WE’VE SEEN IN THE EXTREMELY RARE DUST JACKET.